PMB business champs awarded

2007-11-18 00:00

The occasion also marked a first for the awards, with the introduction of the Emergent Black Businessperson of the Year award.

In order to highlight the high quality of entries in this category, Layman made a special effort to honour all seven nominees at the banquet.

Nomfundo Nguse of Computer Fanatix - a remarkable 22-year-old businesswoman - emerged as the Emergent Black Businessperson of the Year.

The judging panel was particularly impressed by her determination in establishing her ICT business at the age of 19.

Nguse, who was awarded the Youth Innovate in Africa in ICT last year, gives back to the community through the donation of computers to a project in Umzimkulu, while also being a regular guest on radio shows encouraging previously disadvantaged youth in the IT industry.

Prior to Managing Director of Somta, Allan Conolly accepting the award from Jenny Goddard of Nedbank Business Banking, PCB CEO Andrew Layman highlighted the daunting dilemma that faced the company only a few years ago.

In 2002, Somta Tools was faced with major challenges when its international holding company went into liquidation.

The private equity division of Standard Bank and Somta Directors became owners of the company in an effort to rejuvenate the company.

“Even as recently as 2005, staff had to be retrenched in order to maintain liquidity. However, the tide turned and in the middle of last year, profitability was restored. The bald facts are impressive to say the least: a 45% increase in turnover in three years, a 68% increase in return on investment in 2005/6 and a whopping increase in profit of 410% since 2005. The company's order book has doubled in two years,” Layman noted.

Somta Tools, founded in 1954, is now one of the largest cutting tool manufacturers, drill bits, milling cutters and reamers, exporting products to 68 countries and employing more than 600 staff members.

Conolly singled out the contribution of staff members as having been

instrumental in the resurrection of the business.

Several key focus areas informed the company's march back to profitability, including governance, staff development and reward, as well as training.

PCB President Zinhle Sokhela also made a special award to Yusuf Dawood Asmall, whose well-known family business celebrated its centenary of trading in Pietermaritzburg in September 2007.

The banquet was sponsored by Nedbank Business Banking in association with The Witness.

kavith@witness.co.za

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